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Bureaucracy Today, 01 October, 2011


As India strides its way ahead to become a truly global brand, it is important to take stock of what the international fraternity has to say about the 'Great Indian Story'. Horasis is an independent think-tank, founded and headed by Dr. Frank-Jürgen Richter who is also the former Director of the World Economic Forum. A brainchild of "reverse globalization" as Richter puts it, Horasis tracks the growth story of India, China Russia and Arab States vis-a-vis the developed world.

It is seven years since Horasis has been acting as a conclave for emerging markets. Horasis through its flagship annual meetings and regional summits has been acting as a key partner in providing a platform to global business communities from emerging markets. It is to have dialogue on key issues and to come up with effective solutions for sustainable growth in the future. The Horasis Founder was recently in India and spoke exclusively to Bureaucracy Today.

The European economic crisis has been making headlines for long now. The Indian CEOs, at the June 2011 Global India Business meeting, organised by Horasis and held in Naples, Italy, expressed their concern over the crisis looming over the international economy.

While India sailed through fairly well during the 2008 economic crisis, this time round the stakes are much bigger, analyses the Horasis Chairman. He adds, "This time, of course, interest is much bigger. There is nothing like decoupling anymore and India will be affected. I met a few Indian CEOs and the feeling is that they all are very concerned about Europe. Some have even started scaling back their operations. We already feel that a negative impact is happening. " Richter cautions the Indian business fraternity of some risks involved but adds that the current crisis looming over the European economy is more of an opportunity. He says, "I think right now it is right time to go to Europe and buy assets. What I would say is India should use the situation for more practice on the international scene to see more Indians play a role in world organizations."

The Horasis Founder recalls that Bajaj Automobiles Chairman Rahul Bajaj was pointing out of the window to Mount Vesuvius telling his counterparts at the Naples meet, "Europe is now in a state of volcano and any second there could be an eruption". The Chairman opines, "Europe is looking for its soul. We don't really know where to go because we lost our industrial advantages. Countries like the UK are even selling their industries and are focusing on financial services. The current economic crisis is less the crisis in the Euro or of banks. It is really a crisis of the economic model and what we really lack is a long-term vision."

Richter senses a very "positive mood" in the Indian business fraternity but sees very few people talking about it. He adds, "Many good things are happening in India but people are not talking about it. What India should do more is very active promotion of its business interests overseas, may be using meetings like ours, for soft power approach to tell the kind of good things happening in the country. I think India is a kind below its ambitions or even possibilities when it comes to providing a very positive image to the outside world."

Brand India is not as reinforced in the international market which may add to the divide. Richter has the answer which precisely lies in the fact that India has so far not come up with truly international brands.

Richter analyses that even when there is lot of PR and advertising the emphasis on brand building is bleak in India. He adds, "Even the Tatas are not full-fledged brand overseas. There should be some real investment happening into brand building and there is need to talk to the global counterparts through networks and platforms such as Horasis."

Having pointed out the negatives, Richter seems to be rather impressed with the 'Tatas turning around the Jaguar story' as he says, "Interesting thing is the Jaguar was suffering under Ford. Ford was not really able to turnaround the Jaguar. Since the Tatas took over the Jaguar is doing very well."

Even as India aspires for robust economic growth its logistics are pretty discouraging if we compare it to other developing nations. Richter adds, "There is lot of inefficiency in the system. The typical Indian warehouse is still old fashioned and the cost of operating in India is much higher." This is juxtaposing the fact that India is a low cost country but the expenditure on logistics is double. Richter believes that logistics and supply chain is the sector where the next growth story lies. "Also manufacturing companies have to build strong brands and must go overseas for more business", says Richter.

Issues such as governance and corruption are a cause of worry for those who want to do business in India. "Anna created quite a stir", observes Richter. Pointing out the Singaporean model Richter explains, "A typical minister in Singapore earns more than the CEO of a company. There is another way.

That may be that you should reduce your democracy to make it much leaner. At the same time pick best people to pay them well." It seems that the world is closely watching as India surges ahead and Horasis in the process will continue to bridge the divide between India and other international markets to make things happen. Let the blueprint for sustainable future reinforce itself.


Horasis is a global visions community committed to enact visions for a sustainable future. (http://www.horasis.org)

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